Thursday, September 1, 2016

Who are You Going to Call? Pentagon? or State?

I have to admit, this recommended reading is a bit like reading a phone book. It is dry. However, much like the phone book, the more you read into it, the more you will discover...So that's where the Templeton's live...Look, there's our address!...Are there that many auto dealers in town?...Where do I go to give plasma? On that note, where does one find the inner details of foreign policy? In authorities.
An interesting Congressional Research Service report looks into some of the authorities that DoD has allowing them to provide resources for a wide range of security assistance or security cooperation activities. The August CRS report, DOD Security Cooperation: An Overview of Authorities and Issues, looks at the variety of authorities the Department of Defense has acquired to conduct security assistance, or in DoD terms, security cooperation activities. This is an important topic because at the heart of it is a very contentious debate about the fundamental nature of U.S. foreign policy. Who defines foreign policy? The president? The State Department? The Department of Defense? Angelina Jolie? Since 2001, there has been a perceived shift, at least in dollars, toward the DoD's ability to do activities traditionally left up to other agencies, namely the DoS. There are a number of reasons why that is so, and we can look more at them later.
Nevertheless, a serious political and academic debate centers on this idea of proponency. Who is the proponent for managing foreign policy? Is that not a designated State responsibility? They would say it is; however, they are not funded in the same manner and with the same capabilities and with the same forcible authorities given to DoD. Therefore, DoD has found itself at the forefront of shaping foreign policy rather than just providing a set of tools with which State or others could shape policy.
This is one of the key cautions mentioned in a fantastic new book by Rosa Brook. If you have not bought your copy of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything, I really encourage you to. She challenges the underpinnings of our current bureaucracy and its tendency to press the “easy button” with DoD. One of the questions she implies is, along what kind of trajectory might a foreign policy that relies heavily – or too heavily – on the military, head? Anyway, regarding security assistance or security cooperation, here is a good analysis of authorities that have been given to the DoD. I would encourage reading carefully through the appendix too. The appendix lists many of those authorities. Trust me; they are quite interesting…like discovering there are actually piano tuners in town – several of them.